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  1. #1

    Series vs Stand-alones

    Hey folks!

    As someone who's recently discovered the pleasures of reading single-volume novels, I'm interested to know what my fellow fantasy readers think about stand-alones compared to series. Don't get me wrong, a well-written (and well paced) series is hard to put down, and let's admit it, some of us are slaves to the agony of anticipating the next book to answer all those niggling questions posed in the last one. Still, after reading the 'Wheel of Time' series that just seems to go on and on and on... a novel like 'Tigana' comes as a very welcome breath of fresh literary air. I like to call such books 'single serve fantasy'... ^_^

    Lemme know what you think!

    IMHO... ^_^

  2. #2
    King of the Lurkers. Moderator Keyoke's Avatar
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    Series vs Stand-alone? God, that is a tough one..

    I think I prefer series.. Providing, that at the time of reading, their are reasonably close to being finished.. Though, I have a horrid tendacy to read only ONE novel of a series, and then come back to the set after some duration of time has passed, and hence, I forget some of the story..

    So, I guess it's hard to say.. But, if I had to choose.. Series, preferably no longer than 3-5 books.. Six at best.. I think after that, it might be pushing the bounds of the story..

    And, I do like Stand-Alone, but, my problem with them is that at the end of the novel, your grasping for more..(Unless their HUGE)..

    A example for me The Cursed by Dave Duncan.. Amazingly great book.. But, at the end, I wanted more, and I think he could have tossed in about 200+ pages more..

    I do enjoy Stand ALone novels that take place in a world that has been visited before (Single or Series), like the Mithgar series by McKiernan..I think after the intial 5 (Trilogy, and then Duology) they were mostly Single novels..

    Keyoke
    Honor to the House Acoma

  3. #3
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    I prefer a series to a stand alone most of the time for basically the same reasons as Keyoke outlined. I think it's really hard to "finish" a story in one book, especially one that has any type of complexity to the plot or characters. I like trilogies, and I'm not adverse to as many as five books in a series as long as they are well written and don't drag. Jordan is driving me crazy with his WoT books, but I'm an addict so I just keep waiting for the next one with breathless anticipation. I also like the way David Eddings and Dave Duncan write by linking one finished series with another. That way the story "ends" in a reasonable amount of time, but you get to see what happens after the world is saved, the quest is accomplished, etc.

  4. #4
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    I prefer a series to a stand alone most of the time for basically the same reasons as Keyoke outlined. I think it's really hard to "finish" a story in one book, especially one that has any type of complexity to the plot or characters. I like trilogies, and I'm not adverse to as many as five books in a series as long as they are well written and don't drag. Jordan is driving me crazy with his WoT books, but I'm an addict so I just keep waiting for the next one with breathless anticipation. I also like the way David Eddings and Dave Duncan write by linking one finished series with another. That way the story "ends" in a reasonable amount of time, but you get to see what happens after the world is saved, the quest is accomplished, etc.

  5. #5
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    I just haven't read that many stand alone fantasy novels. I love series for fantasy, because I get really caught up in the characters, and can't wait to see what happens to them long down the line.

    Stand alones tend to leave me hanging and wanting more! For instance The Forever War. (Can't remember the author at the moment!) I read that book, and was so blown away by the end of it that I couldn't believe it was only one book with about 250-300 pages!!!!

  6. #6
    Guarded by the Moon Moderator Lani's Avatar
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    I guess I like both stand-alones and series. Why series are good people before me already said and I agree. On the other hand there are series that after good first book go down and became very repetative and sometimes not worth reading. And because of the well-written first book you still read them.
    Stand-alones here are good because if the one book is well written and well finished it usually doesn't need to continue and it is good in it's own way.

  7. #7
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    I like both - but I do like series that have each book having an ending of there own. The ending should be "almost final" but leave enough thread of the initial story to allow further books in the series. (If that makes sense). I do not enjoy epic series where the number of books rises and rises, as I lose the gist of the tale. I like stand alones when I feel in the mood for easy reading (and when the pennies are low and I can't afford the sequels!!!)

  8. #8
    Senior Member Giarc's Avatar
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    Well, I think I'm on the same wavelength as Sojourn. And possibly for the same reason...WOT. I haven't yet read Tigana (just waiting til I can get my hands on it) but I have read the Lions of Al Rassan. The Lions of Al Rassan converted me to the preference for stand alones. Lets face it, how many supreme evil overlords, or massive armies are likely to arise in a characters lifetime?
    At any rate, I do still enjoy series but I think a well-crafted stand alone is the pinnacle of good fantasy. After all, the great classics by Homer were all stand alones. And even Tolkien's greatest achievement (the Silmarillion) is a quasi stand alone (the lost tales merely repeat sections of most of it IMO).
    Anyhow, that's my take. Does anyone have a cure for Jordan-boredom?
    G.

  9. #9
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    I enjoy series better, but its nice to finish a story in one book sometimes.

    I recently read "The Redemtion of Althalus" by David Eddings and really enjoyed it.

  10. #10
    High Priest of Cainism Shehzad's Avatar
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    I certainly prefer series, but I really don't like the tendency of certain authors to get carried away with the whole deal, and pile on book after book. Cases in point: Jordan, Piers Anthony (boy can he drag it on...) Terry Brooks... etc. It is true, at least as far as SF is concerned, that a single-novel work can carry far more impact (eg Asimov's The Gods Themselves). I have also come across superb single-volume fantasy books, and fully appreciate them. After all, Magician was initially a stand-alone, and the later books really don't compare with it (although The Empire Trilogy was almost as good)

    I don't believe in excessively long series. Three is ideal but up to 5 will do. Anything more is stretching it.

    Who wrote Tigana and The Lions of Al Rassan?

    Shehzad...and from me too:
    Honor to the House Acoma
    (that was one series I couldn't get enough of)

  11. #11
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    Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan are written by Guy Gavriel Kay. I have not read either one of these, but I have read some of his other works including the Fionavar Tapestry (a trilogy) and Sailing to Sarantium (book 1 of The Sarantine Mosaic). I really enjoyed all these books and am looking forward to the second Sarantine book being released in paperback.

  12. #12
    A servant of Lord Arioch FitzChivalry's Avatar
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    I read only Tigana, and i didn't like it. Am i the only person here who didn't like it?

  13. #13
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    Guy Gavriel Kay, while an excellent writer, has a definate tendancy for the melodramatic. If you're not willing to bend to the sweep and tide of the emotions that he runs through his books, then I imagine that they would not be very enjoyable. I remember liking Tigana, but it's been at least a decade since I've read it, and I have no desire to go back and revisit it. His books remind me of a medieval courtier; always in delicate pain and longing.
    I also think that his later books (Lions of Al-Rassan, Sailing to Sarantium) are more solid than his earlier works.

  14. #14
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    It seems to me that there aren't a whole lot of stand-alone fantasy novels. Maybe I am just reading the wrong authors, but I couldn't think of any stand-alone fantasy books I had read. THere are some like Terry Brooks First three Shannara books which are stand-alone, but they all take place in the same world and have a least a couple of carry-over characters. I think that series work well for fantasy because they do tend to be more epic then something like a romance novel, which is very compact.

  15. #15
    A servant of Lord Arioch FitzChivalry's Avatar
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    Well yeah, almost all of the high fantasy books come in series.
    But swords and sorcery like Elric, Conan etc. come as stand-alones most of the time and some of them (especially Micahel Moorcock) are really good.

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